I hope you are staying warm with all the snow the past few days! While we didn’t reach the peak of some forecasts, MSP airport did record over 13 inches which isn’t too shabby. The legislature canceled committee business Wednesday-Friday so rural legislators could get home safely. Even so we still accomplished a lot, here is some of what we passed recently.
The Read Act Hearing
My bill to massively overhaul how we teach literacy in Minnesota by basing it off of structured literacy or science of reading had its first hearing last week. The Read Act is a legislative effort to take what we know now about research, human development, and cognitive science on how people learn to read – and apply it to meaningful public policy.
Fifty percent of Minnesota children are not reading at grade level. Fifty percent! The goal of The Read Act is to support our districts and improve literacy rates in the State of Minnesota – to help every child have the opportunity to read well. The Read Act is a comprehensive approach led by K-12 Teachers, Principals, Superintendents, Cirriculuim Directors, parents and students to take the science behind reading and apply it to a large-scale change to increase literacy access in Minnesota.
The science of reading is evidence-based reading instruction practices that address the acquisition of language, phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling, fluency, vocabulary, oral language, and comprehension that can be differentiated to meet the needs of individual students.
Conversion Therapy Ban
I am incredibly proud that we voted to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy on Monday. We need to affirm and celebrate all youth no matter their identity. Thank you to all of the courageous advocates in the queer community who fought relentlessly to end this hateful practice. It is because of their relentless advocacy and determination that Minnesota will finally ban this dangerous and discredited practice.
Earned Sick and Safe Time
Last week we approved legislation to expand Earned Sick and Safe Time benefits to all Minnesota workers. The legislation would ensure, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. Many workers are still forced to make an impossible choice between earning a paycheck and taking time off to care for themselves. People who lack access to paid time off are disproportionately in low-wage positions, women, and members of BIPOC communities. With this bill we are prioritizing the health and well being of every worker.
Free School Meals for All Students
We also passed a bill to provide free school meals for all students! We pride ourselves on our strong education system, but with 1 in 6 students trying to learn on an empty stomach we are not living up to our values. We have the resources to prevent student hunger and it’s our duty to step up and provide the food security families need and the high-quality education our children deserve.
This week the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which I am a member of, had some critter visitors from the Minnesota Zoo! Zookeeper Donnie Cook joined us with a chuckwalla, a lizard found in the southwestern United States, and a chinchilla, a rodent native to the Andes mountains in South America. The Minnesota Zoo is the fifth largest zoo in the country and as a state agency, it receives one-third of its funding from the legislature. Our investment in the zoo ensures it remains available and accessible to all Minnesotans. You can watch the hearing, including the animal presentations, here!
Science in SchoolsI am a co-author on HF759, which would fund the development of a formal computer science curriculum so more school districts could offer computer science classes. Minnesota currently ranks LAST in the nation for access to computer high school courses among all 50 states.
I also stopped by the Edina Robotics open house today and saw many impressive robots students have built this year! Our bill to expand the high school internships all across Minnesota will be ready soon.
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Thank you for the honor of representing our Edina residents and families in the Minnesota House!